Links to my Books

Links to My Writings

Meditations on Maintenance for the Kindle
Memoirs of a Super Criminal for the Kindle, Nook
One Year in the Mountains for the Kindle, Nook
Adventures of Erkulys & Uryon for the Kindle and Nook

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Growing Strong

Growth has always been a viable metaphor for the spiritual life. If it is the growth of a plant from seed to tree or of a child moving towards adulthood, the idea of growth has always been applicable to the spiritual life. I have a nine year old daughter and a ten month old baby boy. Both of them are at completely different developmental stages, and yet someday they will both be adults. The spiritual life is much the same way. We may be just beginning the growth cycle of a spiritually maturing being or we may be well on our way. Either way the steps of development may be similar for all of us, just like childhood development is similar for all children. Here it is important to make a distinction. I say it is “similar” for all children; for everyone develops and matures along their own lines becoming a diverse group of adults. The spiritual life follows suit. We learn to pray, but our prayers will be different; we learn to serve, but choose different ways to be servants in life. There is a similarity to growth which creates a united community in shared commonalities, but our differences foster diverse communities.

The point I would like to move towards is that growth brings change and maturity which include new challenges. My nine year old knows how to walk, my ten month old will learn that skill in the next few months. My nine year old does not need to relearn that skill, she knows it and can move towards the next challenges of running or biking. Spiritually speaking, growth is similar. Once we learn a spiritual skill, we don’t have to keep going back and relearning it. It is time to put that skill to use, to develop it further and allow it to lead to other challenges where we need to grow. If you have mastered the discipline of prayer as intercession, then perhaps it is time to explore prayer as meditation or discernment. If you have mastered serving as an usher, perhaps it is time to challenge yourself to serve as a reader.

A good place to start is knowing where you are. Take some time to make an inventory of your spiritual skills. Ask the following questions: How am I using these skills for my community? How can I further these skills as I grow? What challenges in growth am I facing now?

Another exciting exercise is to create a spiritual autobiography where you can track your growth in the spirit. Make sure you list special moments such as baptism, confirmation, reaffirmation retreats or service projects, that have had an impact on your spiritual life. This autobiography can then be used as a tool to see trends, movements and growth in your own spiritual life. Perhaps it will open you to see ways in which you have been moving that you did not recognize before.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Value: Economics or Meaning

This is a thought which I have had recently. It is one that is still in development and so a little shy on concrete principles or proof. At some point in human history we started to see each other, and by extension ourselves, as commodities. Our value and worth became coached in economic terms. A person's worth became tied to their economic potential. Success became gaged by ownership of possessions and their economic value. When did that shift occur? Or was it even a shift or just a natural extension of the industrial revolution's effects on human society? Certainly having the ability to provide both support and safety have been long sought after skills by both men and women. But wasn't that skill honed within a community all trying to advance the good of all for the advancement for the good of the individual?

I think perhaps the difference now is that the good of the individual overrides the good of the community. I will run the best and cheapest business in order to outsell and undercut my competitors and drive them out of business so that I will succeed. This last statement is all about the individual's ability to provide by out-performing. They are not bringing value and worth to the community, only cheapening the business class. Not that healthy competition is bad, it just needs to be balanced with a little community mindedness. Why do I need to open a new store if two already exist in the community that sell the same thing, just to try to drive them out of the market and show how "good" I am at business? Where is the value in that?

At this point perhaps I need to let the original thought simmer for a bit longer before I ramble on and on and turn it into a muddled mess. I guess the question (or thought) is why do we let economics dictate our worth and value, and not some other aspect of life?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Freedom and Responsibility

This is an excerpt from a posting in a discussion group at Fine Art America.

Free is a relative term. As a father I am free to do somethings but not others, as a husband the same holds true. When out in society I am free to act in some ways and not others. And the association with free is always changing. In Cali you used to be free to light up after a good meal, but not any longer. You used to be free to make a living off the land, but not any longer. You used to be free to homestead, but not any longer, (not even in Alaska). The idea of freedom changes over the course of time. We used to be free to live life without the intervention of the government, but not any longer. Freedom is always juxtaposed against responsibility. Responsibility is when you knowingly and freely give up some aspect of your personal freedom for the greater good of family, society or nation. I know people who don't want to give up their freedom of snowboarding to show up to work on time and they cant figure out why they keep loosing jobs. We are free to vote but we are also responsible for the outcome. If we don't like the results we are free to change them, but then we become responsible for the changes (if we wait for the next voting cycle or instigate civil unrest they all have consequences.) I am sure this is all assumed nonsense and I have no need to spout out about freedom and responsibility. If we want to be free to be one of the most powerful nations on the planet, then we also have responsibilities. Am I willing to give up some of my freedoms to make a better world: cheap art supplies, affordable studio space, the ability to travel to shows, plethora of museums and galleries that wealth brings to a city, time in my day to paint and pursue art... I am free but the flip side is I am responsible to use my freedom, even to give it up for the greater good, with a bit of wisdom. And the boy in the photo does not have to think about such things because he assumes his freedom to enjoy a summer day is sacred and protected by the adults around him who have given up personal freedoms to make that day happen; adults who make the tough, in the moment decisions that may be right or wrong but still have to be made then and there. It is no easy thing to be a responsible adult. I always thought that someday some elder would sit me down and tell me how to be an adult, but as I became one through trial and error I realized we are all more or less making it up as we go along. We try our best and hopefully learn from our mistakes, but we don't know it is a mistake until well after the fact. But if we move forward with growing wisdom and the desire to learn from our mistakes then we can grow into being decent adults creating those lazy summer days for children to have the freedom to enjoy without care or concern about safety or survival.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Faith and Doubting

There is a difference between doubting and pushing back against faith. Doubting is questioning the evidence and waiting for more proof before believing. Pushing against faith is when one knows what to believe and when to believe but refuses to do so. Doubting is healthy in creating strong mature faith that is built on solid reasoning and belief. Pushing against faith is creating the illusion of doubt to persist in holding back from belief even if it means the slow decay of the soul and spirit. Doubting leads to faith, pushing against faith leads to despair.

I have always been a skeptic, holding off from making a decision believing that tomorrow more evidence may present itself to persuade me one way or the other. Although that is a healthy way to approach a subject until one has a grasp of the main themes and is ready to proceed towards a conclusion, it is not a healthy way to live. Eventually one must decide. Not that one has to give up questioning or searching, but one must begin to narrow down the searching by choosing a course of action which by its nature begins to exclude other courses of actions. It is hard to live if one is not being committed. You can only half-ass life so long until it catches you. Calling it skepticism or even searching only holds so much water.

So when I bring these two tenets together I see in myself the fear to commit because of my proclivity toward skepticism which I call doubt but in reality is pushing against faith. I can no longer live that way but must commit to a course of living. And along this path I will find many more questions to search out the meaning towards. Having faith is not giving up thinking. Having faith is not blind belief. Having faith is accepting what you know in your heart to be true, even when your mind wants to ask that next question or is waiting for that next bit of evidence.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


Life is never the way it is supposed to be. There are so many things outside of our control, things we get blamed for and held responsible for, but in reality we have absolutely nothing to do with. As the old saying goes: life is unfair. But why is that? Why do we just sit by and accept that as part of life? Yes, life will throw curve balls at us, but that is different than intentional creation of scenarios where life has to act in unfair ways. How do we create a life, a society where trust, faith, justice and fairness are the defining points?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Human totality

I believe that humans are made up of three parts: the body, the psyche, and the spirit. Each part is essential to a fully functioning human. Each part must therefore be understood and developed. Often a culture or religion will highlight one of the three aspects to the detriment of the other two. Let us look briefly to see how a human is created from these three aspects.

The body is the physical aspect of the human, the flesh and blood. It is the vessel where the psyche and spirit meet. But it is not just an empty vessel. It is essential to the totality of the human. Bodies come in all shapes and sizes and in all modes of health. But there is also a baseline that must be achieved to be human. Once that baseline is met then healthiness can flow out of it. But for many it is a strive just to maintain the baseline and health is far away. Or once a little health is achieved, then it is an easy slide back down. The body is greatly affected by the psyche and the spirit. To achieve health in its truest form, harmony and balance must be sought.

The psyche is Greek for soul. But I have found the psyche is more than just the soul of the person it is also the mind of the person. We will see how this duality is created a little further on. The psyche is the emotional and mental state of the person. It is how one processes the outside world into inward feeling. But it is also the person's character, personality and will. If one is convinced mentally of a sickness or defect, then it is sure to materialize physically. The body will follow the psyche into sickness, but also into health. That is, if health is rightly understood.

The spirit is that part of the human that connects us with the divine, but not just a religious concept of God, but to the energy that is in everything and flows through everything. The spirit is what makes us part of nature. It is the connecting and entangling principles just now being discovered in the areas of quantum physics. It is a force that has limited understanding because science denies it, and religion confuses it with the soul and muddles the idea with theological limitations.

But now to put the pieces together. Think of the three aspects as three triangles, each slightly over lapping another to create a larger triangle. Where the body and the psyche meet you arrive at the mind. Where the psyche and the spirit meet you arrive at the soul. Where the spirit and the body meet you arrive at the quanta (or divine).

So it becomes obvious how all the parts fit to make the whole person. And health is the balance and harmony of the parts working together. Health is not just the absence of sickness, but it is the smooth running and flowing of the parts to create more than just the individual aspects. There are always hiccups and breakdowns, but to have the ability and wisdom to find where the "sickness" originated puts one in the place to restore the balance necessary for health. It is simple, but also very complex. It takes awareness of the self in all three aspects, but it also takes awareness of the awareness, stepping back a step to look at the totality of your being. That is the complexity. Diligence and discipline help us to enact the steps required to restore the proper balance. In essence, could this be quite simple?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Art work

If you happen to be in Pocatello ID anytime in February, stop in and check out my art work. It is on display at the Portneuf Brewery which is located on 1st Street.

If you are not in Pocatello or Idaho you can still see my work online at

Feel free to leave a comment or even buy a print if you are so moved.